Musings About Life... After Birth

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Vertical,schmertical.

Posted by Chelsea on February 05, 2009

Big Bro is the type of kid who likes to go against the grain. He knows what he wants, and likes to do things in his own, unconventional way. The positive spin on this personality trait could be “Big Bro is is own person!”, “He’s an individual!” or “He’s sure of himself and his wishes!”. The negative, of course, could be “He’s a total pain in the butt.” I can interpret it either way, depending on the day and the situation. When we’re in gymnastics class and he won’t sit in the circle during the opening stretching exercises (he prefers to run around the circle while everyone else sits in it - he’s still paying attention, but just doing his own thing physically), it’s the latter. When he’s sleeping, however, it’s the former.

Every night when my husband and/or I put Big Bro to bed, he’s positioned traditionally, head on the pillow and feet towards the foot of his bed. Whenever we go to check on him before we go to bed, however, he’s turned himself around. I took these photos on four consecutive nights in order to illustrate:

Night one. The baby doll in the corner is the one we bought him to get him ready for Little Bro’s arrival. He still likes to sleep with “Pretend Baby Drew” and, occasionally, gouge out its eyes.



Night two. Note that “Pretend Baby Drew” has been replaced by plush Handy Manny, a birthday gift from Grandmomtourage member Debbie, Momtourage member Jen’s mom.



Night three. Tush in the air, Braves visor hanging from the bed.



Night four. This time we’re horizontal, and “Pretend Baby Drew” has made a comeback.



Hilarious.

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SleddinginNewHaven!

Posted by Chelsea on January 11, 2009

While many birds fly south for the winter, The Kaplans bucked tradition (and, you might argue, a little bit of common sense) over the holiday break and made a trip up to New Haven, CT to visit my husband’s brother, Michael, and his family. I don’t have brothers and sisters myself, so I always love spending time with my in-laws, and I especially adore seeing my little guys hang out with their cousins. Michael is eight years older than my husband, so his children are a bit older than ours. Our boys are 3 and 10 months, and his are 12 and 9. Despite the age difference, however, the kids have a blast together.

Prior to leaving on our trip, the weather report predicted that New Haven would be blanketed with a decent amount of snow. Michael called and told us to make sure we bring the kids’ snow clothes so they could go sledding. Snow clothes? Yeah, we live in D.C. No snow clothes for these dudes. We were leaving the following day, so I bolted to the mall in search of snow clothing. Now, keep in mind, I’m from Atlanta, so being put in charge of snow clothing procurement was a little scary. My first stop was the kids’ shoes section of Nordstrom, where I asked the salesman to show me what snow boots are (I kid you not - I wasn’t sure what they looked like. Rain boots? Those duck shoes from L.L. Bean?). They had one pair, so I snagged them for Big Bro. Good ‘ol Nordstron also had a little baby snowsuit in Little Bro’s size as well as a size 3T Columbia snow bibs and a little kid-sized Under Armor turtleneck to go underneath - all of which were on sale (not to mention all matching as they were all gray and black - this pleased me more than the fact they were on sale, admittedly). While at Nordstrom, I ran into Momtourage member Jenny, who advised me to check out Sears, mentioning that they carry Land’s End’s clothing - including the kids’ stuff. Sears? Really? You get, like, washing machines at Sears. Oh no - Sears is my new place for jackets and fleecy things - their kids’ winter clothes were super cute, and all were 40 percent off. While there, I picked up a fleece hat and gloves for Big Bro.

So, when it came time to dress the Big Bro for sledding, I was very excited. We made the decision to keep Little Bro home, thinking it might not be worth it to schlep him out - in retrospect, we should have taken him, as he could have handled it, and he really would have had a blast. Next time, Little Bro, I promise! Here is Big Bro, in all his winter glory:

I bought gloves for him, but apparently kids his age/size need mittens. The gloves are way too big, and he totally looks like Mickey Mouse.Additionally, they are fleece, which gets wet and cold in the snow. Who knew?



Ready to go!



Needless to say, Big Bro had a blast, so all of that last-minute, frenzied shopping was worth it. Here he is having fun with his cousins:

Learning to make a snowball…



..and then learning what happens when someone tosses one at you!



..kinda makes me sad I missed out on all of this fun when I was growing up!

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BigBro’sfuture?

Posted by Chelsea on January 07, 2009

There’s an article in today’s Washington Post about a 6-year-old boy who after missing the bus, elected to drive himself to school this morning. Sadly, some crap parenting seems to have likely been the precursor. The article says that the boy’s father was under a court order not to leave the 6-year-old and his 4-year-old brother alone with their mother at their home in the town of Wicomico Church, VA. But Dad left for work at 6:30 a.m., and Mom was still asleep when the 6-year-old missed the bus and then drove off at 7:40 a.m. for school. A court order not to leave the boys alone with their mom? Yikes. Fortunately, the authorities are on it: the parents were arrested and charged with felony child endangerment.

Thankfully, the poor kid, who was desperate to get to school so he wouldn’t miss breakfast (this makes me especially sad) and P.E., avoided injury, as did the other drivers he was sharing the road with. He crashed the car into a utility pole and, understandably, was majorly freaked out, but ultimately, fine.

Because the story ends relatively well (moron parents nonwithstanding), I can admit I find it rather hysterical. Especially the boy’s justification for getting behind the wheel:

“The sheriff said the boy told him that he had trained on video games such as Grand Theft Auto and Monster Truck Jam.”

Big Bro, though too young for Grand Theft Auto, is obsessed with monster trucks - especially the kids cartoon “Bigfoot Presents: Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks”. Monster Truck Jam video game, monster truck cartoon, what’s the difference? Will he, too, one day hop behind the wheel of my car and send it into motion, certain that he can handle it because of his “training”? He’s enough of a wild man that I’m sorta concerned that the answer is yes.

New Policy in the Kaplan home: television viewing is limited to “Handy Manny” only. 3-year-olds receiving premature training on fixing things: good, 3-year-olds receiving premature training on driving, bad.

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MondayMomMust-Have:OuidadKrlyKidsproducts

Posted by Chelsea on September 29, 2008

The other day, Momtourage members Jen, Alison and I were eating lunch with our kids and we all noticed how curly-headed those four little buggers buggers are. Granted, that’s probably what you get with a group of nice, Jewish kids, but still - it’s pretty remarkable, especially since the corkscrewed gang resembles a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream - one blonde (mine), two brunettes (Alison’s) and one redhead (Jen’s). Curls like theirs are pretty are pretty enviable, and always bring comments; wherever we go, people always make all sorts of “Look at those gorgeous curls!” or “He looks just like a little cherub” remarks. I always thank people when they compliment him like that, and to those who make the angel reference, offer them the opportunity to take him home and discover that’s he’s actually a little devil

just how angelic he truly is.

Don’t let the cherubic ringlets fool you.



To maintain my kid’s curls, I use the Krly Kids products by Ouidad, the New York-based hair stylist who is known as the authority on curly hair. I know, I know - I’m definitely advancing my quest to make my son gay by using all sorts of fancy haircare products on him, but seriously, this stuff keeps his locks from getting all ratty, tangled and ‘fro-esque. If your kids have curls too, you gotta try this stuff - it’s fantastic.

Ouidad’s Krly Kids No Time For Tears Shampoo, No More Knots Conditioner and Pump & Go Spray Gel, $12-$15 each, or $36 for the set, Ouidad.com.



Got a curly kid? Send me an email at chelsea@themomtourage.com - I’ve got four sets of the products to give away!

HappyHalf-Birthday,LittleBro!

Posted by Chelsea on September 15, 2008

Little Bro had his 6-month birthday on the 14th. I can’t believe it’s been six months. Time flies when you’re having fun - and even when you’re not.

I took him for his 6-month checkup today and thankfully, he seems to be doing well. At 18.5 lbs and 27.5 inches, he’s in the 75th percentile for both height and weight, which is where he’s always been (and, interestingly, Big Bro has always been too). He got one oral vaccine and three shots, which was just so sad. His eyes got so wide when the nurse jabbed him with the first needle, and then he let out that terrible silent cry - you know, the one where the poor kid is in such intense pain and shock that he can’t even make sound at first. Poor dude.

Granted, I’m completely biased, but Little Bro is one adorable kid:


Big Bro is pretty darn cute too, yet they look really different, I think. Big Bro is a dead ringer for his dad at the same age, and has fair skin, blonde curls and blue eyes, while Little Bro has olive skin, brown hair and hazel eyes, and resembles my baby pictures.

It makes me a little sad that I haven’t been able to relish all of Little Bro’s developmental milestones the way I was able to with Big Bro. The first time we gave Big Bro food, both my husband and I were there for it, we took all these photos, and there was lots of cooing and clapping. Little Bro’s first food eating involved my tossing our nanny a jar of Earth’s Best Organic sweet potatoes and a baby spoon, then snapping a few quick photos before heading out the door to drop Big Bro off at preschool. I understand that that’s just how it goes with second, third, etc. kids, but it still makes me kinda sad. Especially now that the focus in our house is largely on potty training Big Bro, poor little bro gets a bit of the shaft in the attention/focus department. Little Bro is essentially along for the ride - sometimes even literally - and basically has to adapt to Big Bro’s schedule. I just have to keep reminding myself that he’ll most likely be a well-adjusted kid for it (unlike me, an only child who never really learned that I wasn’t the only game in town). I’ll let you know….

All in all, Little Bro has been a dreamboat of a baby. He’s so smiley and giggly; he just has such a sweet, cute personality. So much so that he’s somewhat suckered me into the idea of having a third. The funny thing is, when I was pregnant with Little Bro and found out I was having another little boy, it made me really sad. Of course, there was the part of me that was bummed I wasn’t going to have a daughter, but more so, the thought of having another insanely active little boy running around just completely frightened me. Big Bro is a major handful, and I had no idea how I would deal with another one like him. My husband reassured me that no one has two kids with the exact same personality, and sure enough, Little Bro is very different from Big Bro. Little Bro is in most ways far more chill than Big Bro ever was. He’s not in constant motion - even when strapped in a car seat, and he’s much more patient. On the other hand, he also seems a bit more needy - liking to be held more than his brother ever did, and less into hanging out in the Exersaucer or in the bouncy chair, unfortunately. Despite my early reservations, I’ve since realized that having this little boy is exactly what was supposed to happen for me. I absolutely adore this child, and feel a very strong bond with him. In some ways, it’s different han the one I feel with Big Bro. Not better or worse, just different. I knew I would love this baby no matter what, but I never knew how much I would. I thought my life with one child was pretty full of love, but with two - wow. Some days I’m not totally feelin’ that love, but on the days I do, it’s all cheese and Hallmark cards (was that redundant?).

So, as much as these past six months have felt like the most insane months of my life (and, likely, they have been), they’ve also been some of the coolest. Sometimes when I’m sitting on the sofa or cuddling on the bed with both of my little guys, I am overwhelmed with the feeling of how incredibly lucky and blessed I am. I mean, these two beautiful, sweet boys are mine - my family. I wish that kind of happiness for everyone. 

Tags little bro

Briberyiseverything

Posted by Chelsea on September 10, 2008

I’m nearly two weeks into potty training Big Bro, and sadly, it hasn’t been going too well. He’s definitely “ready” (or as “ready” as he’ll ever be), and we’re having decent success at home, but when we’re out, he rarely wants to stop what he’s doing to tell me he’s gotta go. Therefore, we’ve had our fair share of accidents - and a lot of them have been full-on gross, if you catch my drift. Just this week we had one at school today, one at the park the other day and another that same day when Momtourage members Meredith, Jen and I were at Chicken Out eating lunch with our kids. Ugh. I know we just started, but already, I am so over it and so frustrated. Obviously, I can’t communicate this to my kid, as that would only set us back even further, not to mention guarantee his presence on some therapist’s couch 20 years from now.

I needed some major advice, so I consulted my brother-in-law, Michael, a child psychiatrist and the father of two older kids (read: he’s done this before, and actually knows what the heck he’s talking about). He listened intently, and then offered these words:

“I think it’s time to bring out the big guns.”

“The big guns?”

“M&Ms.” 

Really? I had always heard you weren’t supposed to use food as a reward when potty training, despite the fact that one Momtourage member (whose name has been hidden to protect the innocent - and the guilty) bribed her kid with her favorite, blue licorice. It worked like a charm, both in getting her potty trained as well as in turning her poop turquoise.

“Yes, you generally shouldn’t use sugary sweets,” he said, “but in this case, you need a jump start, and I think he’d be motivated by the reward.”

I wasted no time picking some up today - little Halloween snack packs that can easily be thrown into my purse. I picked up some extras for myself, my motivation to endure - literally - more of this crap.

When discussing this plan of attack with another child-development professional, she echoed my brother-in-law’s advice. “Honestly, would you show up to work if you weren’t getting paid?” she said. Point taken. “Don’t worry,” she reassured me. “Really, he won’t be expecting M&Ms when he’s 4.” Let’s hope not.

When I think about Michael’s M&M advice, it makes perfect sense - especially in the case of potty training. I guess kids sometimes need that extra goal - whether it be a piece of blue licorice or the ability to push the real-life vacuum as Momtourage member Sloane offered her son while training him. So, I’m trying the M&M trick, and hoping for the best.

I just hope I don’t reward myself with them too often.

Tags potty training

MondayMomMust-Have:WhitneyEnglishVinylStickers

Posted by Chelsea on August 25, 2008

Big Bro’s gearing up for his first full year of preschool. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:15 until 12:15, Mom he will experience three hours of bliss

a day filled with art, play, snacks, story time and socializing. I’m not sure who in our house is the most excited.

Of course, there’s a huge list of things I need to pack for his little cubby - a bag of extra clothes, a bag of diapers, a little tote bag, etc. - all of which must be “clearly labeled with his name”.  Sure, I could take a Sharpie to everything, but because it’s Southern, slightly preppy me, I had to do it a little cuter. For my labeling, I’ll be affixing some “Madras Navy” vinyl stickers from Whitney English (printed up with his name on them, of course) to all of his things.

“Crew Bullard” - does it get any preppier? Madras Navy Square Vinyl Stickers by Whitney English, $31.20 for 24, smallfrypress.net.


In addition to being adorable, of course, I love that these stickers are waterproof and therefore able to withstand spills, the dishwasher, the sprinkler, the ocean - you name it. They can also be used as gift stickers, book plates, lunch labels, whatever.

Of course, the stickers come in all sorts of other cute little designs. Here are some of my favorites:

“Gingham and Dots Pink” pattern, $31.20 for 24, smallfrypress.net. Seriously, why did I not have a girl?


Circus Dots Blue” pattern, $31.20 for 24, smallfrypress.net. Cute and unisex, you know?


“Ribbon Stripe Multi” pattern, $31.20 for 24, smallfrypress.net. I kinda want these for myself.


Vinyl Stickers from Whitney English. LOVE them.

Tags labels, stickers

Thenamegame

Posted by Chelsea on July 24, 2008

Big bro has been going through a period where he prefers that we call him by a name other than his own. The name changes weekly, and most are plucked from things he sees on television. There was a five week-long “Backyardigans” phase where he was “Pablo” for one week, “Austin” for two, “Tasha” for another and then “Pablonator” (from the “Cops and Robots” episode, naturally) for the final week. After that, he wanted to be addressed as “Mr. Diego”, which I am assuming is some sort of Dora/Diego reference, though I have no idea from where the “Mr.” originated (because really, shouldn’t it be Señor ?). Up until last weekend, his name choice was “Pony”, one of the monster trucks in “Meteor and the Mighty Monster Trucks”. Interestingly, Pony is the only girl truck on the show - and just happens to be purple. As much as I’d like to use this selection as “Maybe my son IS gay!!!” evidence, I actually think he likes her because she’s purple, his favorite color (which, still, is not totally masculine, right?). Anyway…presently, he’s “Remy” from the movie “Ratatoullie”. He’s even gone so far as to dub Little Bro “Emile” (the big brother rat in the movie, but whatever….), my husband “Daddy Rat” and me “Mommy Rat”.

When he chooses a name, we MUST address him as such. Calling him by his actual name gets you a swift admonishing (“It’s Remy.”). He gets into it by referring to his newly-monikered self in the third person (“Remy wants a cookie!”, “Remy does not want to take a rat bath!”). If you want to get him to do something, the only way to be successful is to call him by his new name. Apparently, this goes on at school too. After requesting that she call him “Pony”, his teacher, who also happens to be Grandmomtourage member Debbie, mother of Momtourage member Jen, assumed this was my pet name for him, and asked Jen to confirm her suspicion. “No, I thought it was Mr. Diego,” she replied. Of course, I had to explain that no, in fact, he’s actually so obsessed with a purple, female monster truck (which part of that is the most objectionable?) from television that he feels compelled to take on her identity. “Ohhhhh…” they replied.

What’s funny about this story is that apparently my husband went through a similar phase. In the first grade, the school called his mother to tell him that he had been writing “Pelé Kaplan” as his name on all of his assignments.

Must I get into the multitude of commonalities between my white, Jewish, lawyer husband and the Brazilian soccer legend?


His teachers were not amused. Neither was my education professor mother-in-law when they called her in for a conference and tried to tell her to make him stop. “Why don’t you just worry about teaching, okay?” she told them. “He can sign his name however he wants.” Oh, snap! Of course, she knew he’d eventually grow out of it, which he has. For the most part.

Of course, just like my mother-in-law, I know this little role-playing thing is a harmless phase. I just hope that when he’s tempted to dye his hair blue or pierce his nose to “express himself” in high school, he just asks to be called “Pony” instead.

Tags big bro

Mmmmmm…spaghetti!

Posted by Chelsea on July 15, 2008

Guess what Big Bro had for dinner tonight:

Not sure if more got into his mouth or onto his face.



I love the pasta beard he gets when he eats spaghetti:

If only Palmolive made shaving cream….




One bonus of spaghetti eating: no need to floss post-dining!

Don’t forget the back teeth…

Tags big bro

Iknewit,partdeux:Barneyisaneffectivetorturedevice

Posted by Chelsea on July 11, 2008

Yesterday’s L.A. Times featured an article about American interrogators and their “torture playlists”, essentially, the songs they’ve been playing over and over again in an attempt to torture prisoners and detainees.

As I read the article, I was reminded of when I was in college and my then-boyfriend, making me take a vow of secrecy that I am clearly breaking here, reported that during his fraternity’s Hell Week, he and his pledge brothers got locked in a room where cold water was dripped on them and “Here Comes the Hotstepper” (specifically, the “chi chi chang chang” part) was put on the stereo system’s repeat. He said it was sheer torture, and apparently, the U.S. military agrees, as they use the same tactics on suspected terrorists at Abu Ghraib. The only difference between the two scenarios is that my ex-boyfriend and his pledge bros voluntarily signed up for and endured that crap, and then the following year made the dudes dumb enough to do anything to be allowed into their social circle suffer through the same thing. Woo hoo, brotherly love!

“Here Comes the Hotstepper” was not mentioned in the Times article, but one of the songs supposedly used to break the will of terrorist suspects and cause them to confess to crimes against humanity was one I know well: the “I Love You” song from the “Barney” TV series. It’s actually the song I sing to Big Bro every night before I put him to bed, with the words slightly changed to include the names of everyone in our family. Interestingly enough, I didn’t pick the song to be our featured bedtime lullaby because of its association with Barney, but because it is sung to the tune of “This Old Man”, which is one of Big Bro’s all time faves. I actually loathe Barney with a hatred I only reserve for Karl Rove and nude pantyhose. Ugh, he’s so horrifically grating. And lame. If a children’s character could ever be designated a douchebag, Barney would win such honors. I’m sorry, but you know it’s true.

The author of the article, Bob Singleton, who was music director for the TV show “Barney and Friends”, wrote: “When I heard that “I Love You” had been used at Abu Ghraib to break the will of terror suspects, I just laughed. It’s absolutely ludicrous. A song that was designed to make little children feel safe and loved was somehow going to threaten the mental state of adults and drive them to the emotional breaking point?”

Uh, Bob, have you actually heard your song? It does precisely that, brother. The U.S. Military is using your song against the enemy for the same reason it employs assault rifles and smart bombs: they work.

Is it me, or is Bob the only dude on the planet baffled by this news?

Tags music, barney

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